Outlook: Ohio University News & Information

Monday, June 1, 2015
University names chief of staff
Rebecca Watts begins work Aug. 11  

Jun 20, 2008  
From staff reports   

President Roderick J. McDavis announced today that veteran communicator Rebecca Watts will assume the role of chief of staff and special assistant to the president.

Watts, who will start Aug. 11, comes to the university from Murray State University in Kentucky, where she serves as the deputy to the president. She visited the Athens campus in early spring and was taken with the university and surrounding community.

"I was excited to be on campus. Ohio University is a first-rate university, and the feel and culture of Dr. McDavis and the executive staff was so positive," she said. "When we toured campus and I saw the students and talked with the students, I realized this is such a positive place and there are so many wonderful things going on. I want to be a part of the growth and excellence of Ohio University."

McDavis likewise was impressed with Watts, whom he calls "a very easy person to get to know and an easy person to communicate with."

"Clearly, she has strong leadership abilities," he said.

In a candidate, McDavis looked foremost for solid, executive-level communication skills along with a proven expertise in organization, strategic planning and the workings of a university.

The role of the president requires him to be out of the office frequently, McDavis said, and his chief of staff must ensure that business continues seamlessly.

"We needed someone who could help manage the agenda of the president's office. We have a small presidential staff, and Becky's role will be to ensure key functions of the office continue in a forward direction whether or not I'm on site physically," McDavis said, adding that Watts also will take on special projects as needed.

Watts is well-accustomed to serving as liaison between a president and the executive staff, deans and university community.

"I am the conduit for communication," she said. "I do the same thing in my role at Murray State. I listen and talk with the university community and the executive staff, and I answer their questions and bring them to the president. They like me being the communication vehicle for the president -- to keep information flowing both ways."

Before joining Murray State, Watts was the public information officer for Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent Randy Dunn, with whom she has worked since 2004. Following the departure of his chief of staff, Dunn asked Watts to assume the role. Three years later, when Dunn became president of Murray State University, he persuaded Watts to become his deputy to the president.

Watts holds a master's degree in communication from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and a bachelor's in communication from Sangamon State University, also in Springfield.

The role Watts will assume has evolved since predecessor Alan Geiger retired as assistant to the president and secretary to the board of trustees. The time was right, McDavis and board members determined, to separate the roles, which had grown along with the university. Tom Davis became interim -- then permanent -- secretary to the board.

Watts will visit Athens frequently in the coming weeks to prepare for the move. Her initial goal is to listen and learn, she said.

"What I want to do first is to have my eyes and ears open to learn about the culture of the university, to determine where I can be the most effective by listening to what Dr. McDavis, the executive staff and others have to say and to determine where and how I can offer the greatest benefits," she said.

Watts said she and her husband are eager to relocate.

"I am looking forward to becoming part of the university community, and my husband and I are excited about becoming part of the Athens community," Watts said. "I'm happy to be a part of something bigger than one, and working together with creative ideas to keep things moving forward." 


To speak with a media representative about this story, contact Sally Linder at 740-591-7873 (cell) or linders@ohio.edu.


Related Links
Office of the President: www.ohio.edu/president/ 

Published: Jun 20, 2008 2:50 PM  

Rebecca Watts
Rebecca Watts


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